Breast Cancer Sirgery in Those Days

Breast caner surgery without anesthesia simply can not be dreamed to-day. The author describes in detail the agony of the patient who under went surgery for her breast cancer by Napoleon’s doctor. Amazingly she survived for 29 years.
I quote from the feeling , “When Dr. Larrey asked the other physicians who would hold the breast, Fanny bravely said, “C’est moi, Monsieur! & I held my hand under it, & explained the nature of my sufferings, which all sprang from one point, though they darted into every part.” After seeing the “glitter of polished Steel” she “began a scream that lasted unintermittingly during the whole time of the incision – & I almost marvel that it rings not in my Ears still! so excruciating was the agony. The operation lasted three hours and forty-five minutes, and according to her husband, the patient showed “un Grand courage.”
clipped from

The Dark Ages of Breast Cancer: Mastectomy Without Anesthesia and Survival for 29 years

By: Michele R. Berman, MD  | 
October 01, 2010

Fanny first felt pain in her right breast in August 1811. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in September and Napoleon’s surgeon, Baron Dominique-Jean Larrey, agreed to do the surgery. In order to keep her from getting too nervous about the procedure, she was given very little notice as to when it would be done. She arranged to keep her husband and son away and wrote a will and letters to them.

A wine cordial was the only anesthesia given to her. In the salon of her home she waited until “my room, without previous message, was entered by 7 Men in black.” These were the doctors who were to do the procedure. They spoke in hushed tones and used hand signals to communicate with each other. Fanny interpreted the hand signals as meaning that they intended to remove the entire breast.
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